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MSF's Response to the Hurricane Mitch Disaster
November 15, 1998
From the onset of the disaster, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) delivered medical care and relief supplies to the most affected regions of Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador. As communication lines and transport routes improved, MSF teams were able to reach more communities in Honduras and Nicaragua isolated by damage. Epidemiological and nutritional surveys were done regularly in certain hard-hit regions to monitor health and supplemental food needs. In Choluteca and Tegucigalpa in Honduras, teams repaired water and sanitation systems damaged by the flooding, and distributed water chlorination equipment and instructions.
Nicaragua, MSF teams provided medical, nutritional, and water and sanitation support to remote regions. Teams traveled by helicopter and boat with a local Nicaraguan non-governmental organization to visit and assist affected populations along the Rio Coco on the Atlantic Coast. The teams monitored and treated suspected cases of cholera, dengue fever, malaria, leptospirosis, and other infectious diseases. MSF has started a post-emergency program in eastern Nicaragua. A team is concentrating on repairing and improving the water and sanitation facilities in the area around the Rio Coco river where the Meskito and Mayanga Indians live. The team's goal is to ensure that at least every five households have a properly functioning latrine and each 300 inhabitants have access to a well with clean drinking water. The population of the Rio Coco valley is approximately 35,000. The team is also training community health workers, supplying them with necessary medicines, carrying out a nutritional survey, and preparing for any future outbreaks of epidemics or natural disasters in the region.
Honduraswe are currently engaged in a project to rehabilitate the infrastructure of four health centers that provide service to 400,000 people. The four pronged approach will focus on improvements to water, power and sanitation facilities; on the replacement of lab supplies and improvement of lab installations; on teaching and training in universal AIDS precautions; and on improved epidemiological surveillance methods.
We have begun a new program to rehabilitate water and sanitation facilities in
El Salvadoras well. An MSF team is cleaning and improving wells in four provinces - Ahuachapan and Sonsonate in the west and La Paz and San Vicente in the east. The team plans to restore 900 wells and improve water quality for 75,000 El Salvadorians in the next six months.
Much of Central America has been hit profoundly by Mitch, and the most vulnerable people, those we seek to help as our priority, have grown in numbers and are further affected by the multiple consequences of the disaster. While most international witnesses have left, including the media, the plight of the most vulnerable populations goes on, and MSF expects to continue deploying teams in the region throughout 1999.
Previous Updates on MSF's Hurricane Mitch Relief Efforts:
Tags: Natural Disaster